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AFS Review: Reports

Report on Recent Job Prospects for Folklorists

Friday, May 25, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rosalind V. Rini Larson

By Rosalind V. Rini Larson (Indiana University) — 

Ever wonder how many open folklore jobs there really are in a given year? The American Folklore Society did, so we conducted a survey of all “Professional Opportunities” posted in the AFS Review. We looked at jobs, fellowships, and internships, tallying which were full- or part-time, academic or public, and permanent or temporary. We also distinguished between those that explicitly referred to "folklore" in the listing, those that spoke to core concepts or competencies in our field, and those that were more generally relevant. You can review the full results yourself in the downloadable spreadsheet at the bottom of the page, but here is a summary of what we learned:

  • 97 job listings were posted to the AFS Career Center between May 5, 2017–May 4, 2018. If internships (11) and fellowships (24) posted in that period in the AFS Review are added to jobs, there were 132 relevant positions.
  • Public folklore and related public humanities positions (43) made up 44% of all jobs, while academic jobs (30) made up 31%; the rest of the posted jobs (24) were in museums, archives, philanthropic organizations, administration, and other non-academic/public areas, making up 25% of the total.
  • When internships and fellowships are included, the balance among public, academic, and "other" changes very little: 44% of all positions were public, 35% were academic, and 21% were in museums, archives, etc.
  • The large majority of the posted jobs were permanent (78 of 97, or 80%), while about 20% were temporary.
  • Of the 78 permanent jobs, 42% were public and 32% were academic. However, academic jobs were actually more likely than public jobs to be permanent: 84% of academic jobs were permanent, compared to 77% of public jobs.
  • Full-time jobs (79) were by far more common than part-time (10) or contract (8) jobs.
  • Considering all positions (jobs as well as internships and fellowships), the number of full-time positions was exactly equal among public and academic arenas, with each having 42 full-time positions posted throughout the year. 
  • The number of full-time, permanent positions among the academic and public sectors of the field are roughly on par with one another: of the 42 full-time public positions, 32 (24% of all positions) were permanent; of the 42 full-time academic positions, 28 (21% of all) were permanent.
  • Fellowships were more than three times more likely to be academic (63%) than public (21%), while internships were more than eight times more likely to be public (82%) than academic (9%). Of course, both types of positions are temporary by definition, but while fellowships were overwhelmingly full-time (92%), internships were closer to half-and-half, full- (55%) and part-time (45%).
  • More than a third (37%) of all job postings included the words "folklore," "folk art," "folklorist," or "folk.” A further fifth (21%) did not explicitly request a folklorist but specified core competencies of our field, such as "ethnography," "cultural heritage," "tradition," or "community." The remaining 42% of postings used only more general language, including "art," "performance," "culture," etc. All job listings in the AFS Career Center were judged to be relevant by AFS staff, insofar as the opportunities advertised were the same as or similar to positions already occupied by folklorists.

  • Public positions were considerably more likely than academic positions to mention "folklore" by name in their listings; this is true for jobs (44% of public jobs mentioned "folklore," while 37% of academic jobs did), but it is especially true for all positions (47% of public positions mentioned "folklore," while only 28% of academic positions did).

Have another question about folklore jobs that you want answered? Send it to, and if we can, we'll use our data to answer it for you.

Submitting job openings to the AFS Career Center serves not only those looking for jobs and those looking to hire, but also helps us track professional prospects. If you know of a folklore job, fellowship, or internship that you'd like to see posted, please either submit it directly here or send it to Please allow 2-3 business days for your submission to appear on the AFS website.

All AFS Career Center posts and all fellowship and internship opportunities are compiled in “Professional Opportunities” in the AFS Review.



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